That the Name of God Should Be Forgotten
Religion & Liberty Online

That the Name of God Should Be Forgotten

The Russian Orthodox naval cathedral in Kronstadt, reconsecrated in April

From Interfax:

Moscow, May 15 — On Tuesday, there will be 80 years since the Soviet government issued a decree on “atheistic five-year plan.”

Stalin set a goal: the name of God should be forgotten on the territory of the whole country to May 1, 1937, the article posted by the Foma website says.

Over 5 million militant atheists were living in the country then. Anti-religious universities — special educational establishments for training people for decisive attack against religion — were organized.

According to the plan on religion liquidation, all churches and prayer houses should have been closed to 1932-1933, all religious traditions implanted by literature and family – to 1933-1934, it was planned that the country, and firstly, youth would be grasped by total anti-religious propaganda to 1934-1935, the last clerics were to eliminated to 1935-1936, the very memory about God should have been disappeared from life to 1937.

However, census 1937 where a question about religion was included on Stalin’s instruction puzzled Bolsheviks: 84% of 30 million illiterate USSR citizens aged over 16 said they were believers, the same said 45% of 68.5 million literate citizens.

Churches were again closed in big numbers in 1937. About 10 thousand churches were closed in 1935-1936, eight thousand in 1937, over six thousand – in 1938. According to the modern data, about 350-400 churches from pre-revolutionary churches were open in early war years.

When bishops were arrested, Metropolitan Sergy (Stragorodsky) had to dissolve the temporary Synod on May 10 and administer all dioceses with the help of his vicar bishop and chancellery, which included a secretary and a typist.

For more on the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt, Russia — converted to a cinema under Stalin — see the AOI posting here.

John Couretas

is a writer and editor based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.